Since 1997, nearly $55 million in winning tickets have gone unclaimed, the Appleton Post-Crescent Media reported (http://post.cr/1pospKM ). Jennifer Western, assistant deputy secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, said the in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013, unclaimed lotto winnings amounted to roughly $2.8 million.
"This is within the window of where we typically see unclaimed lottery prizes - somewhere between $2 and $4 million annually," she said.
The figures represent only lotto games similar to Powerball, Mega Millions or Badger 5. The unclaimed winnings don't include prizes from Wisconsin Lottery scratch-off tickets.
Western said unclaimed winnings go toward property tax relief in the state and show up as a credit on property tax bills.
In Wisconsin's history, there have been only a few unclaimed $1 million payouts and a small number of $10,000 prizes. Most of the unclaimed tickets fall in the $4 to $100 range. Ticket-holders have 180 days from the date of the drawing to claim their winnings.
Karen Trom, public relations supervisor for Festival Foods stores in Wisconsin, said there are generally two types of lottery players: those who play lotto regularly and know all the rules, and those who only participate when there are mega-jackpots. She said some of the winnings probably go unclaimed when people don't check their tickets completely.
"I think a lot of people just tuck it away and forget about it," she said.